Pair Girandole Mirrors with Eagles and Candlearms, about 1810
Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) and iron armature, gessoed and gilded, with compo ornament, ebonized mirror surrounds, convex mirror plate, gilt-brass candle cups and bobeches, gilded metal chain, glass drip pans, blown and cut
Each, 38 in. high, 26 7/8 in. wide, 6 1/2 in. deep
One of the most popular forms of looking glass made during the Neo-Classical period was the girandole convex mirror, which was made in a wide range of sizes featuring a considerable repertory of Neo-Classical ornament, including eagles, dolphins, lions, lion heads, shells, and acanthus leaves, and often supplied with elaborately-shaped candle arms and cascading festoons of chains and gilded balls. Although frequently made in pairs, oftentimes with opposing eagles, few original pairs have remained together.
Among the many mirrors of this general type that have survived, the superb form of this pair, their carefully-organized composition, their finely carved eagles, and the fine quality of craftsmanship they display each contribute loudly and eloquently to their status as masterpieces of their type. Their maker was able to create an incredibly rich effect, while avoiding any hint of heaviness or clutter, with his mellifluously-composed acanthus leaves, the beautifully-carved opposing eagles, the bold sweep of the candlearms, and the cascading chains with gilded balls falling from the beaks of the eagles, which, taken together, combine to give the eye little rest, but much satisfaction.
Mirrors such as these were made in both England and the United States, and, barring the rare appearance of a maker's label, it is usually very difficult to attribute their manufacture with any degree of certainty to either country. Some girandole mirrors have a distinctly English flavor, while others, including this pair, are thought to have an American “look.” However, wood analysis of these mirrors proves that these were, in fact, made in America, of Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus).